We also deliver education and awareness talks.
Our native hedgehog is seeing massive declines in numbers and it is estimated that we could loose it as a species in the next twenty or so years.
Before Willows Began
We started out after having a hedgehog move into our garden. At first he was a daily visitor but we soon realised that he had taken up residence in the garden. We noticed that he seemed to be out a lot in daylight and he would come and stay by the patio table while we ate breakfast in the summer, happily eating alongside us.
We knew that this wasn't right and we soon discovered that he was blind and couldn't tell the difference between day and night. Day time is not the time you should see hedgehogs and being out in daylight and being blind it put him in a very precarious position.
This sparked a love of hedgehogs in us and before long we were talking to rescuers around the country with the upshot that we ended up acting as a hedgehog foster. This entailed taking in hedgehogs that were well but not heavy enough for release from other rescuers and looking after them until it was time to release them.
We thought long and hard and rescued a few hedgehogs ourselves with advice from other rescuers and our vets before deciding to operate as a public hedgehog rescue unit.
Photo, me and Stephan (orphaned hoglet) on release day.
That was the beginning of Willows Hedgehog Rescue.
We now take in upto fifty(50) hedgehogs at any one time in the hospital area (it can be more when we have hoglets in with us) and upto eighty (80) with the help of our foster carers - with members of the public bringing injured, ill and orphaned hedgehogs into us. Our facilities allow us to give suitable accommodation to both adult hedgehogs and orphaned hoglets with a number of the hog pens having heat pads, we also have the provision of an incubator for seriously ill hedgehogs and newly born hoglets.
Our Basic Standards
- To provide suitable clean accommodation to all animals in with us.
- To provide that accommodation in a secure dedicated stress free rescue area away from human noise and smells.
- To provide the medical attention that the animal requires regardless of cost or time.
- To provide that treatment where the animal has a chance of recovery and ability to survive in the wild or in the case of animals whose injuries are too extensive to euthanize humanly.
- To ensure that the animal is fully recovered before release.
- To release where the animal has the best possible chance of surviving.
We work closely with our vets Townsend Veterinary Practice Bromsgrove who carry out examination and operations on severe casualties, including splinting broken bones and stitching together lacerations.
We have the experience, necessary medications and equipment to carry out prognosis and treatment for a wide range of situations and we carry out our work with advice and the support of our vets and from the kind staff at St Tiggywinkles who we speak to when more unusual or difficult cases come in. (please note that we are not connected with St Tiggwinkles but as the longest running and most experienced wildlife hospital dealing with hedgehogs in the UK we feel that there advice and knowledge is invaluable).
Some of the housing pens in the rescue area.
Many have electric heatpads under for hedgehogs undergoing treatment and juveniles. Larger bottom pens are often used for disturbed nursing sows and hoglets.
We self funded the unit to start with begging and borrowing items where we could and also spending a lot of time on the web looking for people looking to get rid of items that we needed such as large plastic pet carriers which are used in the rescue area for accommodation. As the number of hedgehogs coming in increased we had to expand our facilities and we now have outdoor and indoor pens for different stages of a hedghogs stay with us. We now need in the region of £5,000 a year to operate and as such we fund raise at our awareness events as well as having the ability on the site to donate to our unit. All of the money donated goes into the rescue unit to purchase food, medicines, daily disposable items such as examination gloves, cleaning products etc.
Our time is given free and we run the hedgehog emergency phone line twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Due to work commitments most of the cleaning and medication is carried out in the early mornining and late evening and we often come home form work to go straight out on a call to collect an injured hedgehog. Where possible we ask that hedgehogs are brought into us as this helps keep fuel bills down and allows our time to be spent in the hedgehog rescue area.
Running the unit can be hard. We see many horrendous injuries and some that end in having to euthanise the hedgehog as the injuries are not recoverable from. Sometimes many hours and days are spent providing care to an animal that does not make it.
When we have hoglets in we have to hand feed litters of up to six hoglets and maybe several litters every two hours for the first few weeks. Everyday the rescue area is cleaned, all bedding changed, food supplied twice a day, medications administered when necessary often twice daily. However the joy is in that most of the hedgehogs are treatable and do recover and are returned to the wild for a second chance.
Photo hoglet after being fed in a quiet area at awareness event
Incubator and part of the examination area
Along with our initial aims of Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release we now also spend a lot of time delivering education to both schools and groups and to the wider public at our awareness events. We believe that if things are to change in the favour of our native wildlife then this is imperative.
Who are we?
Willows Hedgehog Rescue is owned and ran by ourselves; Jayne and Charlie.
Jayne is a local government officer by day and I'm a Ranger by day.
We both carry out the daily feeding, cleaning and general welfare activities for our patients.
We also both respond to calls and if necessary attend to pick up casualties.
Jayne mainly carries out the additional roles of booking in events and manning the roadshow stand, getting contacts, keeping the paperwork, doing the hog washing (blankets, not the hedgehogs themselves!) and running the Facebook page. Want to know a little more about an average day (if there is such a thing for us)? More information here Behind the scenes
I run and write the website content and design, take the photographs, run the Twitter stream, administer the medications, design and deliver the education and give the public talks. Oh I also designed and drew our mascot Willow.
We do have some lovely lady volunteers who sew hedgehog blankets for us and we are now looking for people to help us man the events and awareness events stand as I am often working weekends. If you think you could help with this the please drop us a line.
Many thanks to our small volunteer teem who help us out in many ways:
Paul & Kerry - Foster Carers
Sue - Foster Carer
Sue B - Foster Carer
Topsy - Foster Carer
Helen - Foster Carer
Sue W - Hedgehog Nanny
Pat - Events Volunteer
Margaret - Support
Valarie - Support
Photos: Top - me and Jayne on an awareness event, Centre Left - Me with Stephan on his release day just before dusk, Bottom Right - Jayne with an older hoglet at our vets open day. The hoglets had to come with us due to feeds and were in a quiet area in the vets all day out of public view but they did make a short appearance for a press shot. Normally hedgehogs would not be taken to events or talks and we would not expose them to groups of people or the stress of being in daylight.